A new study, published this week in the journal Health Affairs, has found that the cost of giving birth in the United States has skyrocketed in recent years so much that it costs more than a woman earns in a month.
Researchers looked at the data of women with employer-provided health insurance and found that an average new mother spent more than $4,500 to give birth in 2015, up from $3,000 in 2007.
Study’s lead author Dr. Michelle Moniz at the University of Michigan said, “I don’t know a lot of patients who have this kind of funding lying around. These expenses are coming at a time when most of my patients are thinking of everything else on their baby list — a crib, a car seat, everything they need to keep their newborn safe — and they aren’t expecting a bill like this.”
The researchers explained that the cost of one birth is now more than what a woman earns in a month. An average full-time working woman in the United States earns around $3,400 a month, according to the US Labor Department.
Dr. Moniz and her colleagues found that the actual cost for the birth was almost steady for over the last seven years.
“I was completely surprised that the phenomenon of having to pay something out of pocket for maternity care was almost universal,” said Dr. Moniz. “Ninety-eight percent of people had some out-of-pocket cost by the end of the study.”
The new study takes focused on a common misconception that the Obamacare or Affordable Care Act (ACA), which mandated maternity coverage for benefits, made it cheaper to have a baby.
Dr. Moniz noted, “For people who talk about the ACA, there seems to be this misconception that ‘Oh, maternity’s covered.’”
What concerns Dr. Moniz is the fact that while “large employers are required to provide maternity-care coverage, that coverage can include significant payments from the patients.” She is also concerned that maternal mortality rate is increasing in the United States.
“Our hope is that policymakers take note now and change the situation,” she added. “We want every family to get off to the best start in life, and this is an irremediable barrier.”